Who’s to blame?

Both ordinary Muscovites and the media have taken to labeling
the sudden storm a “hurricane,” a term frequently applied
to extreme weather in Russia. But that isn’t entirely accurate,
says Roman Vilfand, director of the Russia’s Gidromettsentr
meteorological center.

Technically, the storm is a squall line, a string of thunderstorms
that form in front of a cold front, producing heavy rain
and strong winds. In practice, however, that distinction is
likely lost on most people—and not without reason.

On the day following the tragic storm, 108 people remained
hospitalized with injuries sustained from falling and
flying debris. The wind knocked over more than 14 thousand
trees and damaged nearly 250 roofs and 2000 cars, Moscow
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter.

As of May 30, thirty thousand people were working to clean
up after the storm, repair damaged infrastructure and provide
electricity to suburban Moscow, where more than seven
thousand people were left without power.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Situations Ministry (MChS)
and mobile phone operators are trying to hash out who’s at
fault for the absence of a storm alert. In winter, Muscovites
receive frequent text message warnings about declining
weather conditions—wet snow, slippery sidewalks, black ice,
dangerous roads. Warnings are fewer in the spring and summer,
but they still come.

This time, however, only some Muscovites got an alert,
and that message only warned of impending rain and storms.
Others received the message after the “hurricane.”